ACU (Australian Catholic University)


Issue 5, Winter 2012

ACU launches The Core

the core_content

An ACU education is about teaching students to think critically and ethically, and be guided by social justice principles. It’s about passing on the skills to bring about change in communities and in society. 

The Core lies at the heart of this vision. The goal is not just to pass on knowledge, but to raise some of the most fundamental questions on human experience and meaning.

Discussions will explore contemporary social issues, and questions such as what are the qualities that humans need to flourish? How is surviving different from thriving? How is human dignity defined and what difference does it make to our decisions?

Professor Pauline Nugent, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), said the Core units will emphasise critical judgment, clear expression, ethical decision-making and concern for others, as individuals and as a community.

“Above all, they will provide a common learning experience for students at ACU,” she said.

“Undergraduate students will together address the same topics and tackle the same problems – bringing their own views and experience to complex ideas and contemporary social issues.

“The Core will prompt discussions that will continue in the hallways, in homes, and into the future.”

A key aspect of the program is giving students the opportunity to learn beyond the walls of the university classroom. Students have the chance to apply to spend three weeks in Florence, Italy, over the European summer in June and July – with additional destination options added every year.

“Students will attend class four days a week at Florence University of the Arts, and visit the wonderful historic towns of Assisi, Perugia and others throughout Tuscany on their days off,” Professor Nugent said.

The international component is open to all ACU students and generous scholarships will be available for up to 12 candidates to cover the full cost of tuition, excursions, accommodation, meal and insurance expenses to the value of $5,000.

In the future, students will be able to undertake other selected international programs for which credit will be granted for the Core. Information about these choices will be made available in 2013.

The Core will commence in Semester 2 this year for students from nursing; paramedicine; creative arts; exercise, health and sports science; midwifery; theology; inclusive education and disability studies; international development studies; business administration; media communications; and occupational therapy.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven said the Core would reflect the University’s belief that education is as much about the heart as the head.

“Educating a mind without educating the heart is servicing a machine, not building a person,” he said.

Core Units


This unit explores the elements of life that contribute to humans thriving in community and the vulnerability that is part of the human condition. Students will look at interdependence and social justice as building blocks of dynamic communities, locally, regionally and globally.

The Our World unit engages with a fundamental commitment to social justice and advocacy on behalf of the vulnerable, drawing on the Catholic intellectual tradition and other sources.


Beginning with questions of personal identity and values, students will consider various questions of human existence, meaning and purpose as they arise in the contemporary world. How we answer such questions shapes all our interactions –personal and professional – and governs our responses to the situations we encounter.

Drawing on the arts, science, history, culture and the perspectives of the Catholic intellectual tradition, students will explore issues of personal identity and community in a digital age, through the guiding lens of the fundamental dignity of all human beings.


Two University Core units that all undergraduate students will do.

Two Program Core units that are specific to each particular course and build explicitly on the University Core units.

One Community Engagement unit, serving to draw the Core experience together and offer students an opportunity to live the Core in action.

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